Ernst Continues to Work Across the Aisle to Protect Troops from Traumatic Brain Injury

Sens. Ernst, Warren and Reps. Pascrell, Bacon are seeking an update from DoD on their efforts to prevent TBIs; the request comes after more than 100 servicemembers reported TBIs from the Iran-led attack in January.

WASHINGTON – Following reports of more than one hundred American servicemembers suffering traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) due to the Iranian missile strike in Iraq last month, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Don Bacon (R-NE), co-chairmen of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) requesting an update on their efforts to better prevent and protect servicemembers from TBIs through the documentation of blast exposure in servicemembers’ medical history. 

“Given the potential serious long-term effects of TBIs, DoD must continue to take steps to protect and treat servicemembers who have been exposed to significant blast exposure,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The lawmakers, citing recent reports detailing the injuries suffered by servicemembers and the need for improved treatment and understanding of TBIs, requested that Secretary Esper provide an update on the DoD’s inclusion of blast exposure in medical records.

Read the full letter HERE.

Background

All these efforts build off of Ernst’s longtime work to improve research and prevent TBI. Last week, Ernst sent a letter to the Pentagon asking for answers on the security situation of our deployed forces who may be exposed to blast injuries in Iraq, and the plan of care to treat the injured servicemembers.

Last year, for the second time, Senator Ernst partnered with Senator Warren on legislation that would improve research on TBI among servicemembers and strengthen the capacity to track and mitigate blast pressure exposure. The Blast Pressure Exposure Study Improvement Act builds on previous bipartisan legislation that the two senators introduced in 2018 that required the Department of Defense (DoD) to review and update its guidance on blast exposure during training, much of which was included in the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Blast Pressure Exposure Study Improvement Act requires more frequent progress reports from DoD regarding the study of TBI and works to ensure we have the necessary information to better care for our servicemembers and help mitigate these types of injuries. Much of this bipartisan legislation was included in the FY20 NDAA.

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